Confusing medicine labels present significant health risk

19th March 2012 - Fine Cut

Confusing medicine labels are providing significant health risks to at least a third of British pensioners, according to a new report.

A study by the University College of London (UCL) has claimed that one in three pensioners living in the UK have poor 'health literacy' and will have a lower life expectancy as a result.

The researchers came to their conclusion by presenting over 600 pensioners with basic medicine label reading tests. According to The Mail Online, those with the lowest scores on the test were more than 50 per cent more likely to die within the proceeding five years.

Sophie Bostock, who is a research associate at UCL, believes that healthcare professionals should take more care to ensure that medicine labels are easy to understand.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, she argued that there was a definite link between the pensioners' ability to understand the questions and the probability of an early death.  

She said: "The reasons or them dying early are complex - but poor literacy is certainly an indicator that they are more vulnerable. We do think there's something specific about underlying literacy that has an impact on mortality."

"At a broader level, the design and delivery of health related services for older adults in England should be sensitive to the limited health literacy capabilities within this population."

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